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Esther Dyson on Google vs. Yandex

Esther Dyson on Google (vs. Yandex) and her preference of market forces for regulation of information on the Internet: Big Brother Google?

As it happens, I have a complex relationship with Google. I have fed at its trough many times – as a personal guest; as an advisory board member of Stop Badware, an NGO it sponsors; and as a speaker at its events. I also sit on the board of 23andMe, co-founded by the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

But I also sit on the boards of Yandex in Russia, one of a small number of companies around the world who beat Google in their local markets, and of WPP, a worldwide advertising/marketing company famous for its rivalry with Google. Finally, I’m suspicious of concentrations of power of any kind.

So I welcomed the chance to clarify my thinking. I took the con side of the debate: Google does not violate its motto. However, I do think there is a danger that someday it could.

A Google that is accountable to its users – searchers, advertisers, investors, and governments – is likely to be a better outfit that does more good in today’s relatively open market. In short, there is no regulatory system that I trust more than the current messy world of conflicting interests. Whatever short-term temptations it faces – to manipulate its search results, use private information, or throw its weight around – Google, it is clear, could lose a lot by succumbing to them in a world where its every move is watched.